New hepatitis drug could be ‘transformational’: CEO

The potential market for a promising new hepatitis drug could be significant for Arrowhead Research, CEO Chris Anzalone said Monday.

"Hepatitis B is a tremendous unmet medical need. What we have is somewhere between 350 and 400 million people in the world that have chronic Hepatitis B infection. That's one in 20 people on the planet, and there's no cure right now," Anzalone said on CNBC's "Fast Money."

Gilead's premier drug for hepatitis C, Sovaldi, is on pace to exceed $10 billion in sales in 2014 and cures more than 80 percent of patients with few side effects.

There are twice the number of Hepatitis B patients than hepatitis C patients in the United States, giving some indication of how successful a hepatitis B cure could be.

Arrowhead's hepatitis B drug, ARC-520, is an RNAi therapeutic that targets the hepatitis B virus. The drug effectively silences disease-causing genes inside the body in order to reboot the immune system and wipe out the hepatitis B virus.

"So I think if a therapeutic is able to enable a cure or a functional cure, I think it's going to be transformational from a public health standpoint, but it's also going to create a lot of value," said Anzalone.

Arrowhead stock closed at $10.72 per share, down 4.63 percent.

By CNBC's Leanne Miller